FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 12
Paul Sandy
November 20, 2012
 
SYMBOL LEGEND
Rockstar Rock Star Free Agent
Injury Injury Replacement
Grab & Stash Grab & Stash
1 Week Plug & Play 1 Week Plug & Play
Dumpster Dive Dumpster Dive
Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
$ $0 - $5
$$ $6 - $15
$$$ $16 - $25
$$$$ $26 - $40
$$$$$ $41+
Based on $100 cap,
12-team league.

Given the diverse scoring systems and sizes of fantasy leagues, producing a weekly list of free agents that satisfies the masses can be challenging. For the most part, the column will hone in on players who are available in at least 35% of all fantasy leagues. If you play in a small league (8 teams), chances are there may be better players to pick up than you see listed here. If you play in a large league (16 teams), the majority of the players highlighted may already be on a squad; however, expect to find hidden gems, as well.

In addition to scouting “rock star” free agents who had breakout performances in the previous week, the Forecast will dig deep to identify players who may be worth a spot start or a roster stash.

QUARTERBACKS

Colin Kaepernick 49ers
Rock StarWow. In his first NFL start, second-year passer Colin Kaepernick had Candlestick Park rocking. In the first half alone, he passed for 184 yards and a touchdown and added a rushing score. The Forecast liked Jon Gruden’s comparison between Kaepernick and Randall Cunningham. He moved well in the pocket, knew when to scramble, and showed off a rocket arm. It’s unclear whether head coach Jim Harbaugh will make a change at QB or go back to veteran Alex Smith (concussion). Whatever he decides, it’s clear that Kaepernick has mad skills and a bright future in the league. Don’t wait for a formal declaration from Harbaugh on who will start. Add Kaepernick now and figure things out later. He’d be a must-start against the Saints in Week 12.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Kaepernick should be added in all leagues and is a highly attractive option against New Orleans if he’s anointed the starter.

Chad Henne, Jaguars
Injury ReplacementirThrust into the lineup after starter Blaine Gabbert suffered a shoulder injury, Chad Henne looked all-world on Sunday. He passed for 354 yards and four touchdowns against a sound Texans defense. Henne was able to finally get rookie WR Justin Blackmon involved in the offense—something Gabbert had been unable to accomplish. The team is moving ahead with Henne as the starter for Sunday’s game against the Titans regardless of Gabbert’s health. Tennessee is a choice matchup that fantasy owners shouldn’t hesitate to exploit. The Titans rank 26th in pass defense and they’ve allowed 20 passing touchdowns, tied for third most in the NFL.  

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Count on continued useful numbers from Henne in Week 12.

Russell Wilson Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayWilson has thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight games and four of his last five. Coming off a bye, he’s not a bad option against the Dolphins. Miami has the NFL’s 27th-ranked pass defense. With WRs Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin finally healthy and Golden Tate providing serious big-play potency, Wilson has enough weapons to post helpful numbers when the matchup is right. The risk you take in starting him is that Seattle’s offense is still heavily geared toward the run. If Wilson doesn’t throw a touchdown, he’s not going to help much since he rarely throws for more than 200 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spot start Wilson and set your sights on 200 yards and two scores.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Michael Vick (81%)

On the Radar: Christian Ponder (37%) and Jake Locker (20%)

RUNNING BACKS

Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball, Broncos
Injury ReplacementRock StarBroncos starter Willis McGahee suffered a torn MCL in Sunday’s win over the Chargers. Expect him to miss the remainder of the regular season. Denver faces Kansas City this week and will likely split the carries between Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball. Both players will be hotly pursued on the waiver circuits this week. Which player you should target depends on your scoring system. Ball is a bruiser and will likely get the goal-line touches. If you’re in a TD-heavy league, he’s your guy. Hillman hits the hole quickly and has big-play potential along with a higher ceiling. He’s the better target in the majority of leagues, including performance leagues, PPR leagues and those that give bonuses for long touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$$-$$$$$ (Hillman) |  $$ (Ball)
Forecast: Hillman is a high-upside pickup who could be a difference maker for the rest of the 2012 season.

James Starks, Packers
Rock StarStarks ran hard in Sunday’s win over the Lions, totaling 80 yards on 26 touches. Alex Green didn’t have a single rush or reception. It’s apparent that the Packers plan to feature Starks until Cedric Benson returns from his foot injury, which won’t happen until Week 14 at the earliest. This Green Bay offense has shown more of a commitment to the run the previous iterations. Starks has rushed the ball 42 times in his last two outings. It’d be nice for him to find the endzone every once in awhile but RBs who touch the ball 25 times per game don’t grow on trees.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Starks should be owned in all leagues.

Bryce Brown, Eagles
Injury ReplacementShady McCoy left Sunday’s game against the Redskins with a concussion. He will undergo testing this week to determine his availability for Monday night’s game against the Panthers. McCoy owners should make adding backup Bryce Brown a priority. Carolina has a middling run defense, allowing 118.4 yards per game on the ground. Brown has shown some pep in limited action this year. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry against Washington. Although he hasn’t factored much in the passing game (just one catch this year), he caught the ball well enough in college. He’s a smart pickup in all leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Brown has legit RB2 potential if McCoy is sidelined.

Jalen Parmele, Jaguars
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter stinking up the joint for a few games, Rashad Jennings was demoted from starter to backup. Jalen Parmele was the featured RB in Sunday’s barnburner against the Texans. He rushed 24 times for 80 yards and will get the start again this week against the Titans. It’s a favorable matchup so fantasy owners shouldn’t be bashful about using Parmele as a low-end RB2 or flex player. The Titans rank 28th in the NFL against the rush. The Forecast sees Parmele flirting with 100 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind Maurice Jones-Drew is likely to return within the next couple games, which limits Parmele’s long-term value.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Parmele will get the start for at least one more week; he should be added in all leagues.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Grab & StashThe Cardinals offensive line might be starting to gel just in time for Beanie Wells to return to action. Interim starter LaRod Stephens-Howling (80% owned) has posted helpful fantasy numbers in three of his last four outings. This includes a mammoth 27-122-1 line on Sunday against the Falcons. Wells is expected to reclaim the starting job this week and is worth adding in any league in which he’s available. Just don’t count on him being anything more than a spot starter. Arizona’s schedule includes defensive stalwarts Seattle (Week 14) and Chicago (Week 16).

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Wells is set to return this week; he should be owned in all leagues but give him a week to knock off the rust before starting him.

Mark Ingram, Saints
Grab & StashFantasy owners continue to have some trust issues with Ingram, who is available in about half of all leagues. His ownership should tick upward this week after he rushed 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Raiders. New Orleans continues to rotate ball carriers on and off the field. Things will get even muddier in the games to come with Darren Sproles slated to return to action this week. Ingram is worth adding because he seems to be picking up the speed of the game. However, starting him this week against the 49ers would be reckless.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Stash Ingram for RB depth.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlayHunter figured prominently in Monday night’s boxscore, racking up over 30 yards and scoring a touchdown. When the 49ers give their No. 2 RB an opportunity to touch the ball, good things happen. San Francisco draws a favorable matchup in Week 12 against a Saints team that was just bull-rushed by former college WR turned RB Marcel Reece. If Hunter gets ten touches, he should put up 50yards with a potential score. Use him as a desperation RB2 or flex if he’s available.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hunter is under-owned and is worth a stash or spot start.

Bilal Powell, Jets
Dumpster DiveBilal Powell blipped on the fantasy radar early in the season when starter Shonn Greene was underperforming. After he sustained a couple injuries and Greene delivered some quality numbers, interest in Powell waned. However, he returned with a vengeance in Week 11, carrying the ball 11 times for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Powell’s role in the offense going forward is murky. Greene is the primary rusher. Stash Powell in deep leagues in case he continues to see ten or more touches per week.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Powell is only worth adding in deep leagues.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: LaRod Stephens-Howling (80%), Andre Brown (89%), Vick Ballard (73%), Jonathan Dwyer (69%) and Daniel Thomas (71%)

On the Radar: Shane Vereen (17%), Justin Forsett (2%) and Cedric Peerman (3%)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Danario Alexander, Chargers
Rock StarAlexander, who earned top billing here last week, might go down as the best free agent pickup of 2012. After recording 134 yards and a touchdown in Week 10, he backed it up with a stud-like 6-96-2 line in Week 11. If he went unclaimed in your league, adding him should be a priority. Spare no expense to get him. San Diego has a fairly difficult slate of games remaining but Phillip Rivers doesn’t trust his other receivers much and seems to have tunnel vision for Alexander. Lock him in as your WR2 from here on out.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$$-$$$$$
Forecast: If WR is a weakness for your team, do whatever it takes to land Alexander.

Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
Rock StarIt was a long time coming for Blackmon, who finally broke out with 236 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. Jacksonville’s No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft showed outstanding chemistry with backup QB Chad Henne. The club is sticking with Henne, which makes Blackmon an excellent pickup. Don’t be gun shy about using him right away against the Titans. Tennessee’s secondary is soft and has allowed 20 passing touchdowns this year. Beyond Week 12, Jacksonville’s schedule remains favorable with games against the Bills, Jets, Dolphins and Patriots. Forecast favorite Cecil Shorts (71% owned) remains on the add list.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Blackmon’s ceiling is high with Chad Henne under center; he should be universally owned.

Julian Edelman, Patriots
Rock StarEdelman posted five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. He also rushed for 47 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown. It was an eventful afternoon for the fourth-year WR. Considering the number of weapons on New England’s offense, the Forecast would normally urge fantasy owners to take Edelman’s performance with a grain of salt. However, star TE Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm and will miss at least a month. Equally important, Edelman lined up opposite Wes Welker in the majority of two-WR sets, pushing Brandon Lloyd to the bench. In fact, Edelman was on the field for 52 snaps compared to 34 for Lloyd. Edelman is worth adding in all formats and could be a sneaky good WR as we close the books on the 2012 season.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Edelman might not be the hottest name on the waiver wire this week but don’t let him go unclaimed.

Ryan Broyles, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayTitus Young said or did something stupid and got himself benched for Detroit’s Turkey day showdown with the Texans. He won’t suit up for the game. No. 3 WR Ryan Broyles is the next man up. Broyes got some attention a few weeks ago when he scored in back-to-back games and Nate Burleson suffered a season-ending knee injury. His value never fully materialized and in his two most recent outings, he was essentially a nonfactor. But with Young out of the picture, it gives Broyles an opportunity to shine. In theory, Detroit’s No. 2 WR should be a lucrative source of fantasy production since Calvin Johnson draws double-team coverage every week. Take your chances on Broyles if you can’t get one of the top available free agent WRs. The Lions have a favorable passing schedule so Broyles could have some staying power if Young remains in the doghouse.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Start Broyles as a lottery-ticket WR3 or flex.

T.Y. Hilton, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayInjury ReplacementThe 2012 crop of rookie WRs had been a disappointment thus far in 2012. However, standout performances by Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton and the aforementioned Justin Blackmon opened some eyes in Week 12. After posting a 6-100-2 line on Sunday, Hilton has three 100-yard games under his belt this year. There’s no questioning his homerun-hitting talent. And there’s no questioning his quarterback’s talent. The only real issue with Hilton is a lack of consistency, which can mostly be attibuted to the nondiscriminatory way Andrew Luck spreads his targets around. With WR Donnie Avery suffering a concussion in Week 12, it could take one of Luck’s favorite options out of the mix, giving Hilton increased attention in a favorable home matchup against the Bills, a team with a below average pass defense.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Hilton has been boom-or-bust this year; bet on boom in Week 12 against Buffalo.

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlaySanu has scored in two straight games and has some sleeper intrigue heading into a Week 12 matchup against the Raiders. Oakland has been ripped for an average of 45 points per game over their last three outings. WRs scored six touchdowns over that three-game stretch. Sanu’s stock is rising fast and he has been a capable replacement for Andrew Hawkins who missed Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Hawkins is day to day but even if he plays, Sanu figures to see plenty of snaps based on his recent performance. Take a flier on him If you need some WR help in a deep league.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Give Sanu a one-time start against a generous Raiders defense.

Golden Tate, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayTate has six touchdowns this season, tied for tenth most in the NFL. Yet he’s still available in over half of all fantasy leagues. Desperate owners may be able to find some salvation in the Seattle WR. The argument against Tate is he doesn’t catch enough passes. While it’s true he’s only caught more than four passes in a game once, his fantasy production is trending upward over the last three games. QB Russell Wilson’s confidence is starting to grow and it’s clear he and Tate have some big-play chemistry. Give him a shot in non-PPR leagues this week against the Dolphins, who rank 27th in the NFL in pass defense. 

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tate is worth adding and starting (or stashing) in non-PPR formats.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Sidney Rice (84%), Cecil Shorts (71%), Darrius Heyward-Bey (72%)

On the Radar: Brandon LaFell (36%), Brandon Gibson (26%), Santana Moss (55%), Brandon Stokley (29%), Davone Bess (26%), Chaz Schilens (0%), Riley Cooper (0%) and Jarius Wright (1%)

TIGHT ENDS

Brandon Myers, Raiders
Rock StarWith the loss of Rob Gronkowski (arm), fantasy owners all across the land will be scrambling to find a capable replacement. Myers should top the list in any league in which he’s still available. The Oakland TE has hauled in 19 receptions and three touchdowns in his last three outings. He’s ranked among the elite players at his position in PPR leagues. Nobody is going to completely make up for the loss of the Gronk, but Myers will put points on the board for your squad.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: With a favorable schedule remaining, look for top seven TE numbers from Myers.

Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
Rock StarLike WR Justin Blackmon, the light came on for TE Marcedes Lewis when Chad Henne took over as QB of the Jaguars. Lewis caught three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans. With Henne throwing the football, the Forecast believes Lewis can enter the conversation as a top 12 fantasy TE, which would make him a legitimate fantasy starter. Keep in mind Lewis caught ten touchdown passes just two seasons ago. Although he’s battled drops in a couple games this season, his main problem has been a lack of opportunity. Look for more chances in the coming weeks as Jacksonville closes out the season with arguably the easiest remaining schedule from a passing perspective.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With Jacksoville’s offense showing a pulse, now is a good time to add Lewis.

Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayClark may finally be back to full speed after fighting through injuries for the past couple seasons. In his last five games, Clark has scored three touchdowns and posted three quality stat lines. On Sunday, he was targeted a team high 11 times and ended the game with seven catches for 58 yards. Slowly but surely, he has become an important part of the offense. With the way Tampa is playing right now, the Forecast like’s Clark’s chance of continuing to claw his way back to relevancy in 12-team fantasy leagues. Roll the dice with him this week against a Falcons defense that is generous to opposing TEs.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Clark’s arrow is pointing up and he’s worth a spot start in Week 12 against the Falcons.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jermichael Finley (74%) and Kyle Rudolph (75%)

On the Radar: Garrett Graham (1%)

KICKERS

Adam Vinatieri, Colts
Rock StarVinatieri has attempted multiple field goal kicks in eight of his last nine outings. Other than a one-week blip against the Browns, he’s been a rock solid fantasy kicker. Add him in time for this week’s home matchup against the Bills. Indianapolis has one of the softest remaining schedules. After Buffalo, the Colts will face Detroit, Houston and Kansas City. Weather will not be a factor in any of those contests unless Kansas City has an early winter storm. If your regular kicker has been a disappointment, make Vinatieri your guy for the rest of the year.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Add Vinatieri for in advance of a cushy upcoming schedule.

Mike Nugent, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayIn their last three games, the Raiders have allowed 42, 55 and 38 points. Take advantage of the favorable matchup by giving the little-used Mike Nugent some work this week. After four straight losses, the Bengals have turned their season around winning back-to-back games and scoring 28 or more points in both contests. The Bengals should have little difficulty eclipsing 30 points on Sunday. That should put Nugent over eight points.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spot start Nugent against a Raiders team that can stop no one.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Matt Prater (76%), Shayne Graham (84%) and Connor Barth (68%)

On the Radar: Dan Bailey (52%) and Josh Scobee (6%)

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

Carolina Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayIn their last three games, the Eagles have allowed a jaw-dropping seven turnovers, 13 sacks and three DST touchdowns. Any defense in the NFL is good enough to exploit Philadelphia’s spaghetti strainer offensive line and mistake-prone ways. Even the Panthers. Carolina actually had one of their most productive games of the season last week, recording three turnovers and a touchdown against Tampa. Considering the Eagles might be without three of their top offensive weapons (Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin), Carolina has the potential to be one of fantasy five highest scoring DSTs in Week 12. If your regular defense isn’t cutting it, give the Panthers a look.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Panthers are a solid plug-and-play option against the hapless Eagles on Monday night.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Denver Broncos (95%) and Cincinatti Bengals (80%)

On the Radar: San Diego Chargers (52%) and Cleveland Browns (20%)


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